RecycleMania 2017 Wrapping Up, but Keep on Recycling

April 5, 2017 -- The 2017 RecycleMania wrapped up last week after eight weeks of activities designed to educate the CNM community about the importance of recycling.
April 05, 2017

RecycleMania is a national competition with colleges across the country competing to see which school can recycle the most waste on a per-capita basis, which produces the least amount of waste and which recycles the largest percentage of overall waste.

As part of CNM’s 2017 RecycleMania activities, the college held a competition that tracked the total waste recycled at each of CNM’s campuses. The results were tabulated in pounds per full-time equivalent student at each campus. This year, CNM’s Workforce Training Center recycled the most waste per student. South Valley came in second, and the Advanced Technology Center came in third. The rest of the campuses trailed closely behind.

The two months of RecycleMania included several activities. During week two, an educational kick-off event was hosted by Waste Management on the lawn at the Student Resource Center where students separated contaminants from recyclables.

“Contamination of recycling is one of the biggest challenges to single-stream recycling,” said Molly Blumhoefer, CNM’s Campus as a Living Lab and Sustainability Project Manager. “Often, if a bin is too contaminated, it is not accepted by a recycling service provider or maintenance staff and is sent to the landfill.” 

Contaminants degrade the quality of other recyclables so that they are no longer marketable, and they may also break recycling machinery. An example of contamination is recycling a half bottle of soda that might open and cover all the items in the recycle bin, making them useless. The same with a crumbly muffin – basically no food, coffee cups or paper towels should be put in recycling bins.

Teaching people “how to” recycle became a primary goal of RecycleMania because it informed individuals how to reduce waste to the landfill and supported a good relationship with recycling and waste service providers.

“I think that recycling is often used as a Band-Aid to a much larger issue -- overconsumption of’ stuff,” Blumhoefer said. “Therefore, an equally important goal is to reduce waste, in general, by reusing and reducing the amount of things that go to the landfill.”

Several weeks of RecycleMania at CNM focused on reusing containers for coffee on CNM campuses.

Blumhoefer added,  “A bonus to this behavior is not only reducing the amount of non-recyclable paper coffee cups that eventually make their way to the landfills, but when you bring your own mug, you also receive a discount on coffee at CNM’s Suncat Cafés. Refilling reusable water bottles at CNM’s hydration stations and purchasing used clothing were also focal points of RecycleMania 2017.”

Part of RecycleMania this year was electronics recycling and other recycling-related activities. CNM community members also volunteered at a Valentine’s Day Latin Love Fest where they provided recycling services.

“One of the most important aspects of Recyclemania is that it’s a means to collect data,” Blumhoefer said. “This data can then be used to develop a comprehensive recycling plan for institutional and community goals.”